In my post the other day, I posted a brief synopsis of Lacan’s version of the psychoanalytical “mirror stage” of human development [using corona virus to see yourself in the world]. I threw in some or other correlates with philosophical ideas. For some reason, philosophers love Freudian psychoanalysis (Lacan was a Freudian, pretty sure), but I’ve never heard anyone who actually practices Lacan’s psychotherapy; it’s really just food for Philosophy it seems to me.
I am no Lacan scholar, but I’ve read and know something’s about his ideas. For a long time I have used his formulas.
Today, though, I thought about why they should be the case. In what way does Lacan’s psychoanalysis have anything to do with what is really happening for the psyche? Why should philosophers rethink what they use of Lacan?
Psychodynamic theory, the developments which moved from strict Freudian analysis to actual lived experiences of people, offers, I think, a more sensible explanation of human development than the original Freud.
There is a well known psychoanalyst named Eric Erickson and his wife Joan. Together, they put forth a pretty good idea of ego development, how the self develops from birth through childhood and adolescence into adulthood. Freud had an idea of ego development but it was kind of almost like some sort of mystical fantasy really; From my understanding, Freud mostly saw “neurotic” women￼ in his sessions and from those experiences developed the whole of his psychoanalysis, the foundation of, basically, the idea of psychology as we know it. People since them have noticed the issue which forms the problem with psychology in the first place from these origins; I think it was Judith Butler who put forth one of the first critiques of Freudian psychoanalysis, ￼and how it was a patriarchal psychological proposition￼￼.
The people who studied under Freud and colleagues, though, actually moved on and involved themselves with actual people and shaped their theories around the observation of babies and children and how they behave and such.￼￼￼￼
So let me see if I can give you a quick synopsis from what I remember of the Ericksons’ idea￼.
In his book “the stages of psychosocial development” ￼Erickson came up with “eight ages” of man, which people often call the “eight stages” of ego development. You can check that out if you want, the book now is super cheap maybe like three dollars. I’m not gonna go into all the whole book here.￼￼￼￼
What is I think it’s significant for what I’m talking about here is that the mother and the father and how they behave, as well as the environment in which the child develops,￼ are the significant￼ features in ego formation.
One should note that any critique of the ego right now, while justified, there’s not really hold much water in our modern society by the simple fact that everyone knows what we mean when we say “ego￼￼”; Even if what people know of by “ego” is totally incorrect or theoretically confused, everyone refers to the ego as this kind of center of individuality, Self, a knowing aspect of individual human body which behaves or negotiates or otherwise is involved with Society and the rest of the world and universe￼.￼ Call it what you will; the idea of an ego is ubiquitous and even almost defies definition by the fact that I only need to mention it in this blog post and so many people become interested.
Ok. The idea of ego development I think is a sound proposal to explain various types of mental issues. It does well to give us a framework to be able to describe or inscribe some sort of approach upon a person who is having some difficulty in or with being in the world or society￼.￼ As an example, sometimes when a person is come across￼￼ who Is very anxious, say, or falls apart or becomes frantic or has a panic attack at what most people would consider small stimuli or situations that don’t seem to most people to be very aggravating and problematic, one could say that this person’s ego￼￼ has not been very well developed. And this is to say that they don’t have a strong enough sense of self to be able to flex and absorb or otherwise be resilient in situations of various degrees of stress that perhaps most people would not consider stressful. That’s just an example.
One of the main features of Erikson ego development is that the parents need to be present. They mean this in the sense that depending on how they are present determines generally how various types of egos or various types of temperaments can arise. For instance, the child may get separation anxiety or they may be fully comfortable for a period of time when the mother leaves the room. ￼ How the parents were present in the child’s life seem to reflect how a child responds when a mother leaves the room (that was an experiment I think done in like the 1970s or 80s￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ that was studying attachment disorders, I believe, but this way of viewing the study was really framed in a notion of ego development). The infamous “Borderline personality” is often explained in the context of lack of ego, Because the person behaves in such a way that appears so dependent on what occurs outside of them, sometimes it seems sensible to say that they do not have a strong sense of ego. And indeed people with borderline personality disorder will report￼￼ that when they are alone or left to them selves, or when someone does something they dislike, they feel an utter agonizing emptiness. ￼
I’m centering this discussion on the presence of the parents because it goes to perhaps explain how we are able to make a social commentary, a philosophical commentary on what modernity might be or behave as.
Yet also, what prompted this post was I was really thinking about what I was saying about the mirror stage, alienation, and modernity, and it became clear to me that when people look, say, out into the world, themselves driving their car on a road with a bunch of other cars, and the traffic lights in the buildings etc. ￼,￼￼￼ how would they even able to conceive that these things of the world, this platform upon which they are driving their car let alone the steering wheel that they are handling, is really “themselves”, albeit that part of themselves by which they are alienated as a modern identity? ￼
It’s no wonder that philosophy is often regarded as empty intellectual nonsense to many people.
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